Nov 2, 2008

Will the Real American Please Stand Up

Rashid Khalidi, Professor, Columbia University

Joe Wurzelbacher, Unlicensed Plumber, Toledo Ohio

Why is it that no one seems to challenge these ridiculous assertions about anti-Americanism that have come from the McCain campaign? In a society supposedly defined as a democracy, it should be understood that free expression might indeed involve a critique of one's own government and/or other positions not deemed necessarily popular or mainstream. It is anti-American to suggest otherwise.

Which brings me to Rashid Khalidi. As the McCain camp grasps at the few remaining straws left to them, they have most recently attempted to use Barack Obama's relationship with Khalidi, the Columbia professor, as another example of the kind of unsavory people that Obama supposedly "pals" around with. Guilt by association has been a dominant theme throughout this campaign. Though a lot has changed now, I think that it's still important to point out that it was the Clinton campaign who initiated this Richard Nixon-style of politicking back during the primaries.

Rashid Khalidi is an esteemed professor at a prominent university, not some radical terrorist lurking in our midst. I have often found his work to be quite interesting. His book Resurrecting Empire is an excellent history of the Middle East and his appearances on Charlie Rose are always very engaging. Though he may not be a convicted felon like McCain's buddies G. Gordon Liddy or Charles Keating, he is an American who just so happens to have a different point of view than that of McCain and Palin. The last time I checked holding a different view than McCain, Palin, and their cronies was not a crime.

Further, Khalidi had this to say about Obama back in May, "I’m unhappy about the positions he’s taken, but I can’t say I’m terribly disappointed...People think he’s a saint. He’s not. He’s a politician.” This less than enthusiastic comment about Obama should clearly indicate that though the two do have a relationship it's far from one where they automatically co-sign each others ideas.

Hopefully Tuesday's election will put an end to this fear mongering, anti-intellectual, style of politics. Have we not progressed from those days some 20 years ago when Bush 41, fueled by Lee Atwater, started crying about Michael Dukakis being a "card-carrying member of the ACLU"? I'm much more concerned about the damage done to this country by card-carrying members of the Federalist Society myself.

All these recent attempts to separate the "real" America and Americans from the supposedly fake America and its fake citizens is nothing more than old style McCarthyism dressed up for a digital age. Joe the Plumber is no more a "real" American than is Rashid the Professor.

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